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The Front Page of Global Fintech

The the largest fintech community in the world. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest in news opinions, and all things financial technology.

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Beyond Two Percent: Episode Three - What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Venture Capital

This week's roundtable focuses on venture capital, and we're lucky to be joined by Jillian Williams, Partner at Cowboy Ventures, and Ana Cristina Gadala-Maria Principal at QED Ventures.

Beyond Two Percent: Episode Three - What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Venture Capital

We're excited to announce the third episode release of our new podcast, Beyond Two Percent!

Beyond Two Percent: Episode Three - What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Venture Capital?

Beyond Two Percent analyzes the critical questions, issues, and dynamics that affect people differently by gender - and the intersection of those dynamics with finance. This week's roundtable focuses on venture capital, and we're lucky to be joined by Jillian Williams, Partner at Cowboy Ventures, and Ana Cristina Gadala-Maria Principal at QED Ventures.

As always, our guests join our two fabulous hosts, Julie VerHage-Greenberg and Helen Femi Williams. We'll publish Beyond Two Percent monthly - if you'd be interested in joining an upcoming episode, let us know! Reach out to


Helen 0:16
This is the beyond 2% podcast, and I'm your host, Helen Femi Williams.

Julie 0:20
and I'm your second host, Julie Verhage-Greenberg This podcast is brought to you by this week in FinTech, which is the front page of global FinTech news, fostering the largest FinTech community through newsletters, thought leadership, and events, and

Helen 0:33
this podcast series is all about women exploring everything from investing to motherhood to intersectionality, and so much more.

Julie 0:47
And we encourage you to give us feedback on the topics you think we should be discussing and asking and future panels.

Helen 0:53
I think Julie and I and the way that this week in FinTech team recognised that ensuring women are well represented in any industry is always going to be beneficial. Gender Diversity has been shown to spot better problem-solving, superior performance, innovation, and so much more I could go on.

Julie 1:08
You're right, Helen. And if we were specifically talking about FinTech, the industry could benefit from more women at any level because women, in general have not typically been in the spotlight as a target audience for financial products and services. They're an underserved customer segment with a massive unmet need. And

Helen 1:26
beyond that, female founders and executives have personal experience in understanding how to generate and ally new ideas and solutions in this field.

Julie 1:34
And that's why this podcast is called Beyond 2%.

Helen 1:37
There is a world of tech-driven financial products and services that is yet to be discovered because of the lack of women leaders in this space.

Julie 1:45
and through group discussions with leaders in these spaces. This is what we want to explore.

Helen 1:50
This episode is all about building a career as a female VC.

Julie 1:58
And thank you to our sponsors in New York City FinTech women, FinTech woman's mission is to connect, promote, and empower women to advance their careers. They need help from everyone if we're going to make a real change, encouraging male allies to become members and come to our events. Membership is free. And you can sign up at NYC FinTech and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Julian Gillian Williams is an investment principal at cowboy ventures, an early-stage venture fund where she focuses on fintech. Previously, she was at Anthemius, another early-stage FinTech-focused venture firm across North America and Europe. She also serves as the head of black VC New York and started her career at Barclays. She got her BA in economics from Yale University.

Helen 2:48
And Cristina is principal at QED, she is passionate about supporting female and diverse founders and a big believer in business as a force for good. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in management, science, and engineering from Stanford University. Hope you enjoy this episode.

Julie 3:29
All right, so Helen and I and the rest of this week in FinTech team have been kind of brainstorming what topics we want to talk about it, you know, the FinTech and female-related space, and one of them that came up fairly quickly was just building a career as a female VC in this space. So both of you have been in it for a couple of years. Why don't we just start with, you know, what made you take the path to be a VC versus, you know, being a founder or being an operator or staying in banking or being a consultant? Like there are so many different things that you could have done? That would have similar skill sets? In many ways? Jillian, why don't we start with you.

Jillian 4:09
So I started off in banking. And honestly, at the time, I did not know that much about VC. But I knew that, especially with banking, I was missing some of that, like the human component. And honestly, when I started just having a lot more conversations with people that were operating and building things, I realized that like, that was just so much more interesting. And you get to talk to people who are building things which are thinking about the future versus, like, honestly, it was 2015. And like, within I was at Barclays and like they really didn't even know what Venmo was, and so like that wasn't that interesting to me to kind of stay in a place I was like, a lot more backward looking. I kind of stumbled into Vc. Honestly, I started talking to a lot of people just around, like their career paths and thinking about the different things I liked, which was like some aspect of finance stuff, the human component like analytical thinking, the quantitative thinking, and really realized that like that kind of all culminated in the venture landscape and ended up meeting one of the founders of the previous fund that I was at Anthonis. I think, for me, part of the reason why I ended up in venture, and I've been in it for the last like seven years versus operating or founding a company, I guess some of it is I really like being able to work with different companies. So at cowboy, we're really early stage. And so we will work really closely with our founders. And so I like being able to go very deep with different companies. And they can really range in terms of types of companies. So while I predominantly focus on FinTech, I will work with some of our other portfolio companies as well that are nonfintech. But even within FinTech, they can be extremely different. And for me, that's so interesting, being able to go really, really deep in the weeds into one topic, like into a payments company, then all of a sudden come out and go into the weeds into an insurance company. I don't know, maybe that's like very, like, add or something of me. But I think that is something that I really like. I think that's just not to say that like that could never happen to the viewer in the future. But I think right now, that's just kind of what really excites me is being able to meet people that have such a drive and have such a passion for what they want to build and being able to just like help them honestly, in any way I possibly can to build what they want to build.

Julie 6:32
Anna, what about you? Yeah, so

Ana Cristina 6:34
for me, I think I came into venture as sort of a from a social impact perspective initially. So I started my career in consulting and marketing, and I am from Guatemala and sort of left, Guatemala for college had been in the US since then, but always was sort of driven to doing something in Latin America. And for me, sort of over the years, I've always believed that intrapreneurship and sort of innovation is really the way that you can drive the biggest impact and the biggest change. So for me, I sort of, you know, went to business school with this idea of either, you know, I wanted to do something in social impact in Latin America. And so I was either going to do something on my own, or sort of find ways to support multiple innovations, I would say, and so that's kind of opened my Spectrum, initially to impact investing. And so I, you know, I came in it through the lens of wanting to support entrepreneurs who are solving problems, you know, that the region was facing kind of initially primarily focused on education, and then financial inclusion. And I think, you know, from there, I sort of discovered just this broader industry, I guess, a venture capital just beyond impact investing, right. And really, especially, you know, my focus at QED is Latin America, and sort of knowing that the intrapreneurs that I'm investing in, are solving right problems that can transform the lives of millions of people, and just, there's so much room for innovation, there's so much to be disrupted, so many problems to solve that, for me, it's really about, you know, working with the intrapreneurs, that are solving this, these problems, and really kind of transforming the region and the future of the region. So that's sort of how I, the reason why I also I would say, it's kind of stumbled into it, as Julian said, but from a different angle. And that I would say, is also the reason why I kind of remained in venture right is because that now that I get the opportunity to actually work with these founders, and actually, you know, see the day to day of what it is like building a company, and I feel like it's the best use of, of my time, and my passions. And my interest is to support you know, all of these different founders in their journeys and get to, I guess, I've surprisingly found how much of you know, different skill sets that requires which I love, I'm also very much a curious person and sort of love, love learning. And I'm motivated by learning. And so this is, you know, you can, you can never learn enough in venture. And that's part of the job. So I would say, you know, those are the reasons that I that I stay kind of, and I'm still motivated to be in DC.

Helen 9:05
That's really interesting to hear. And I kind of want to circle back to something that both of you have said, I feel like, when people ask people in VC and including both of you, it's like, how did you get into Vc? It's kind of like I stumbled in I didn't know I was going to do this. And I think that does speak to kind of like, the changing roles that probably didn't even exist 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, like, even the concept of like, what a VC is, a lot of people don't really, like know what that is like, we're all sitting on a call and maybe we understand it, but actually, there is this kind of mystique around like how people get into it. And even I can think about a conversation I had with my friend last week where she's finishing uni, she's trying to get into VC but it's not necessarily like a straightforward, this is how you get in this is this is what you do. So how how do people get into VC like you guys sort of stumbled in into it, but because it is becoming like an it because it is an industry now, what is the kind of clear path for like a young A woman, maybe straight out of university to get into Vc. Yeah, that

Ana Cristina 10:03
sounds good. And I would say there's, there's probably no one way to get into Vc, right. I think in my opinion, it's, unfortunately, still a very opaque industry in that sense of, you know, every time somebody asks me, you know, how they can break into Vc? And you know, what open roles they are I, I'm always kind of disappointed at my own answer because I don't have like, really a good answer to give up anyone. But I think it's really like, what I come down to, generally is, is a combination of sort of patience and determination, right? Because I think at the end of the day, there will be opportunities. And it's really about understanding the dynamics of different funds, and just the timing and the cycles of venture capital, right. And so understanding that there is no kind of consistency or pattern to when funds hire, just means that unfortunately, you always have to be, you know, kind of talking to people at different funds understanding, you know, when they fundraise, like whether or not they're hiring, and I would say also, it's, it's a bit of understanding how a VC fund works and what they look for, right, because I think if you can prove that you can add value to the fund, I would say, more often than not, or at least from my perspective, they would consider, you know, having additional hands, I think VCs tend to be pretty small. So even if you find ways to work, especially if you, if you talk to people, you know, coming out of university, or MBAs like I usually recommend, like, while you're in doing the programme, try to find ways to get the experience in venture, right. So whether it's through a project, you know, usually now a lot of programmes have either partnerships or projects that they do with different funds, or working part time, right now we have, you know, a part time intern from MIT, who was also kind of very determined, and we sort of have been talking over the last couple of months. So we didn't have a formal opening, but you know, I really liked her and saw her potential and her energy and her passion. And so it's, you know, kind of we brought her on board as an intern. So I think finding those types of opportunities, you'll find a, there's, I would say, don't take everything, like, you know, as how you see it, in terms of if no, if they're not hiring that does it, that doesn't mean they actually won't consider hiring you, right? If you're the right, the right person, and you're the right cultural fit. So it's a lot of knocking on doors, having coffee chats, you know, being top of mind and trying to create those opportunities for yourself, as well as kind of, you know, the advice and the guidance that I've given, but also being patient, like, for me, it took me, you know, probably about six months, from when I first started looking to get into Vc. And initially, I had my own was starting my own fund. So that was, you know, separate bones, I decided I wanted to join an existing fund, it was probably like a six month process. So I would say you know, it's about having your your long term objectives as well, in terms of you know, where you want to end up what your

Helen 12:48
kind of thing does speak to that kind of way that there are so many different roles out there now, especially within fintech. And there isn't just a way of just I don't know, you're applying you get it, there's so much more that comes when it comes to trying to find a job. And, Jillian, I was wondering if you had anything to speak on that specific question, but also, if you're able to touch on, there is this kind of gender gap between VC which I guess we haven't really discussed or talked about? And I have a question like, is it different from the wider the wider element of FinTech or like tech? Or is, is there something specific within like, VC that makes the gender gap even, like worse? Or is it worse? From your experience? Like, what have you seen?

Jillian 13:29
So I think, in general, if you look at VC, it's definitely I mean, there's definitely a gender problem, especially when it comes to check writers, it's similar to when you look at other industries, especially built into finance, where like you can have, I don't know, if I think back to my banking analyst class, like, you can be pretty diverse and have a lot of women in that class. But then as you look up the ranks, and as they get more senior, that's no longer true. And that could be for a number of reasons. And so it can be an even more homogeneous environment. And I think, to your point is that this has really changed over the last 1020 years where a lot of these firms and the industry itself honestly, like, has evolved in a way where like, associates are not necessarily a newer concept. But before it was a lot of like, individuals that had their exits became investors, and that was kind of what they were doing. And now you having people kind of straight out of school becoming the VCs. And so I think that definitely changes the dynamics quite a bit. And you see still really trying to learn in that way. And I think that goes to why it's not really great at recruiting in the transparency. Part of it, like even the mentorship within venture, and people within known firms or across firms is still really trying to evolve and so I think that kind of reflects across the entire industry, but you definitely See that within any form of diversity, and especially within how many women? And so I think, well, we've definitely seen progress on that. Unfortunately, that's still not necessarily true, as, as true with check writers. And so that really then impacts the overall industry. And so who gets funded. And I think a lot of that then comes down to LPS as well, and our LPS pushing for the VCs themselves to be more diverse. And if they aren't, then why do the funds necessarily have to make a change. And so I think that becomes kind of a cyclical problem that we see within the industry. And because VCs are so small, and because they don't necessarily have the same like, formal structure that a lot of other industries and firms have, it's really hard to kind of hold people as accountable, as you have within a firm that has like a massive HR department or something like that. And so I think it becomes this like, kind of reoccurring problem that we see today.

Julie 16:02
Now, both of you are, you know, young. So it's not like you've been in VC for decades or anything. But over the course of the 234 years that you guys have been in this space, I feel like there has been a push not only in VC, but in other industries, startup industry tech more broadly, to get more females funded to have more female founders to have more female executives, all those sorts of things. Have you noticed any changes during your time in VC, and that whether it be, you know, partners, being more willing to interview females for additional partner positions, just getting more female team members in general? Anything like that? And and, you know, as a follow on to that, what do you think, you know, was the impetus for that change? Was it just the broader movement? Or have you seen other things happening that have led to that as well.

Jillian 16:54
So I will say, I don't want to be negative, but I'd say a lot of those probably just a broader movement and broader push for people to reflect upon what they look like. And honestly, it's kind of a like, two steps forward one step back, that we kind of continue to see, I think we kind of initially saw it, where there was somewhat of a push, however, again, it was a lot more on the on the junior scale. And I think like, I've been in venture for the last seven years now. And I think you definitely have seen it overall improve, but not at the rate improvement that you've bet you'd want it to be. And then there's constant reminders that will just like be in your like, right in your face of how much it has changed. And I think like, I think it was the bane crypto team, like a year ago, when they posted on like International Women's Day, a team of like 10 men, that all looked exactly the same. And just things like that, where it's like, not only can that be what a team looks like like that, that didn't even cross their mind that that could be a problem, as well. And so I do think that we kind of are making steps forward. And we have programmes that continuously help women like all raise and more communities that are definitely making an impact. I still think that it needs to come from not only women, but allies, and then also all these other players within the space as well. And I just think that takes a lot more time. Yeah, I

Ana Cristina 18:25
agree. And kind of to jump in here, I think, you know, from I think we have definitely seen you know, some progress to Julian's point, like there's a lot to be done. But in terms of, you know, you start to see a lot more women interested in Vc as well, which I think is a really good starting point, I'm starting to see more women doing angel investing, which I think is also a really big piece of it, because it's how you can start to get that experience and exposure. You know, we're starting AI in Latin America, I think the problem is even more pronounced especially because just there's such few funds relative to what you see in the US, for example, that venture capital, I would say is a relatively new asset class in terms of both both as an option for entrepreneurs but also as a career right. And so you see a lot of still very heavily like male only funds in Latin America. And I would say there, we still have, we still have a lot of work to do. But there is progress. And I would say I've seen it, you know, firsthand in terms of at QED, right, when I joined QED and this is two years ago, so not even like that long ago, but when I joined there was only two women on the investment team, right? And now there's eight of us. So I think just kind of seeing that, you know, of the last probably like 1012 hires, like 10 have been women. I think that to me is progress. And I think you know, one data point that I love to share is you know, one of the women partners in our team, you know, of her the six deals that she's led like six have been in women write founders, and that isn't by design or intentional, but it just kind of reinforces this idea of, you know, having women on on writing checks dealing with will lead to more women kind of getting funding. And it's sort of just this positive flywheel of starting to change the ecosystem. So, so lots to be done. And I know that data will show that, you know, it's still very much kind of underfunded, in terms of women still a very large percentage of male only funds, but, but there is a bit of progress in that sense.

Jillian 20:20
Yeah. And I think just to add on to things to your point that you reminded me of is one, I think, when I first started in VC, there was a group of us in New York, that's probably like four women or something that were all focused on fintech. And we'd go to like all the female events and things like that. And like, nobody else really cared that we were in FinTech.. And then we were in the FinTech VC. And so we became very close, because they were literally just like four of us at the associate level. And like, that was it and then now seeing like, how much that's changed again, like only in like this six, seven years, is insane. And so like to, to continue playing, like in terms of, especially QED, and how much that has changed is like, is amazing to see how that's grown. And so like, we've definitely made progress. But it's obvious you just always want to see that improve so much faster. And then even to the point of like, investing and getting more women out there. It's like you get more, you've always seen them, men, especially operators, kind of angel investing. And so encouraging more women to do that as well, because that just leads to a pipeline of the either they started investing in just become angel investors or become VCs as well. And so one of my colleagues, for example, Amanda Robson actually created this group called like the modern angels group that was basically to combat the fact that people will say, like, there's no women that want to be angel investors and can't find any women on my cap table. So she's created a group of women of like, almost 200. Now that anytime someone says that, like, well, here's a list of women that want to Angel invest, like, here's a community, you can have access to them, like anybody can access it. And like, you could not say that anymore. And so even little things like that, that can just like really change the dynamic. And yet, you can still hear those, you can yet still see cap tables of only men. Unfortunately,

Helen 22:10
I think one thing that is quite clear when both like Anna, Christina and Jillian speak is that, although there is progress, there is still like, a lot of ways to go. And even when I was sort of like researching for this podcast, one thing that was super clear to me is that like, there isn't that much data on this. And the data that is there is very American focus. So for instance, like and Christina, you said you focused a lot on Latin America, I pretty much couldn't find much when it comes to like hiring stats, or even how many Well, yeah, there's stuff on like, how many VCs maybe potentially get funded, or women founded. But when it comes to like, women who work in VC and stuff like that, there's not really much outside of America. Even in the UK, where I'm based, there wasn't that much data, the ones that were there were kind of outdated. So I guess, quite obvious question I have is, so what do we do now? Like what looks like a kind of small win? What looks like a long term win? And how do we kind of ensure that VC does reflect? Well, life? So that so that there are more women? What do you think Anna, Christina? And then after? Maybe we'll get to Julian? Yeah,

Ana Cristina 23:15
I mean, I think so I think it's a bit to what Julian was saying earlier, it requires not just kind of effort from women, but from everybody. Right. So I think kind of raising the awareness, which I think people have been really trying to do through through data, right, through reports, etc, of just like how this continues to be to be an issue, I think from like a more tactical perspective of sort of short term wins, right, or sort of small wins, is just you as an investor, right? Like, I think sometimes with with these kind of large problems, it becomes hard to see, you know, what you can actually do about about it, you know, individually, and I think, for me, it's sort of kind of bringing it down to okay, what can I do in my day to day, and for me, a lot of it is okay, let's make sure that so I've set, you know, some targets for myself in terms of the number of women out of, you know, this, the second fund that that we're investing in for my the seed fund that I lead, you know, I want 25% of the investors to be women. And that doesn't mean I'm going to, you know, force it, but I do think it, what it does is it forces me to expand my pipeline to make sure that I have enough women, so that I can get you know, does that 25%? And then, of course, you know, ideally, we'll get to 50% At some point, but I think it's more about, you know, how do you make this something that's realistic for you as well. And so, you know, I think it's everybody can kind of choose, I think how they want to move the needle a bit, even if it feels small. So I think whether it's, you know, making sure that I take every call that comes from a women founder, right, even if it's not something that I think we can invest in or if it's not within our thesis, right, I will take the call because I know that so much of VC is network based, right and network driven and sort of introductions warm introductions, that I want to be that resource for women founders, right regardless of what They're not there, FinTech or, you know, lat AM. So that's sort of I commit to I'm also part of like a women's Angel Syndicate, in Latin America, right, just trying to get more people to invest in being on cap tables. And also, I think a small thing that I personally have been doing is also talking to my women friends more about investing and encouraging them to invest, right? Because I think, for so long, that just wasn't a topic of conversation, at least among my friend group, right? And questioning why that's the case, right? When I'm sure, among men, that is probably a lot more common than it is among women. I'm generalising here, but I think, you know, from, from my experience, that's how it's been. So I think it's starting to change the conversation also to start, you know, reflecting that women can also be check writers, they can also be investors, they can also be founders, and sort of, you know, changing those dynamics a little bit. But yeah, I think, you know, on your on your day to day, there's I think a lot that can be done. That seems seems small, but ultimately is what's going to start driving, you know, more of that long term change.

Julie 26:06
I was just gonna say before Juliana answers her her current fund is mostly women. So I guess two questions on that. What, like, drove that in the first place? And then to what can other funds do to try to mimic that maybe not be mostly women, but at least get 5050? Or, you know, better? The balance?

Jillian 26:29
Yeah. So fun was founded by a woman alien Lee. And so I think that some of that happens naturally, then, I think, partly the same way that that happens when men are men, it can happen the other way. And so it's actually funny, because it's something that we talk about, as we are currently hiring that we've discussed, like to make sure that we don't stay like predominantly only women like and think about what our diversity of our team looks like. And so that we don't go too far the other way, and kind of counteract what that looks like. But at the same time, I think there is something to be said about having a predominantly female team and not necessarily only investing into female founders, but wanting to have phenomenal returns as a team of investors, that's predominantly women. And I think that was kind of one of the goals that Aileen had when she started cowboy, as well. And so I think that is kind of like an underlying theme for us at cowboy. But that is something that we kind of joke about at this point, because it has become a little bit accidental, in terms of the valid of male female on our team. But to vedana Christina's point, I think we do look at the stats around diversity and male female on in terms of who we invest into. And it's definitely a lot better than the than the rest of the, the industry. In terms of I think our last fund was like 40% Women in terms of at least having one founder. And so that's something that was completely accidental, in terms of how we're investing. And I think to the point is just kind of as you are, depending on you're much more open to speaking to female founders. And I think that's something that we're excited about. And it's definitely not like the tail wagging the dog by any means. But it's something that we continuously track because we do think it is important. That's just kind of how we think about it. What

Helen 28:37
a question I was going to ask, and it's something that Anna Christina kind of touched on for a second. But we've obviously talked about what you can do, and like how things work. But we've not really touched on like, men and men are important when it comes to helping to, you know, address the gender gap. So I was just wondering, like, because I think it is important for women to support women and women to like, create spaces where we bring each other up and these types of things. But what responsibility do men have? Or maybe not? What responsibility do they have? What can they do when it comes to like, supporting women, and then sort of making sure that this gender gap kind of helps

Julie 29:18
micarta moral responsibility?

Jillian 29:21
Yeah, I mean, I think I mean, I personally think that it is very important for men to do some things otherwise, I don't think we necessarily get that far by just having women carrying and operating in the space. But I think it's important for them to be doing similar things in terms and being advocates as well. And so whether it's men as they are more likely to be the senior partners that these funds advocating for more women, more women, tech writers, empowering them, women that are on the teams to get promoted and to feel more empowered to kind of speak their voice to enable them but then also when it comes to like, the female founders, actually Making sure I think Deanna Christina's point of like, she actively speaks to female founders more often like making sure that they're doing that. And I'm also like, just like checking your own bias. I think, like, no matter what people have a bias. And just making sure that you're kind of understand what that is. I think there's something you said that people especially such, if you're focused on early, early stage VC, to very human job, like you naturally might relate to someone more, or just think that someone is a better founder for some unknown reason. And that's just because you feel some sort of connection to them. And that could be because they look like you're the same gender as you went to the same school as you X, Y, and Z. And just making sure you understand why that is, and making sure that you give other people a chance as well that don't necessarily take that exact box that could be highly qualified founders, or VCs on your team as well. And so honestly, just kind of making sure that you're doing more, for others, I think is very important as well.

Ana Cristina 31:00
Yeah, I mean, I would also add, I think it's about recognising the blind spots that you have kind of both on your team as an investor, and also by not investing in women, right, I think, you know, it's a lot of people just kind of bucketed as you know, oh, we need to have a diversity initiative, or do this for the sake of diversity. But once you realise, especially like in venture capital, where it's like you're investing in businesses that you want them to be pretty large businesses, right, which means more often than not, probably at least half of their, their target audience is going to be women. And so whether you're doing diligence, whether you're, you know, wanting to understand how to expand your go to market strategy, like knowing how to speak to women, how to cater to that market is pretty important, right? From a business perspective. And so it's also kind of, by not having women investing, right, you're sort of missing out on, you know, a different perspective, which will allow you to be a better investor and a better firm overall. And then also by sort of not investing in women, you're kind of missing out on, you know, half of the population. So I think it's once people internalise that, and that goes for both like men and women, right, that this is not just for the sake of gender equality and diversity, but it's also for the sake of, of business, right. And sort of the reality of this is the the world that we're investing in. And if we really want to change it, and transform it and build big, big businesses, you can't sort of have this blind spot. Right, in terms of your team and in terms of your portfolio. So I think there's also that element of just recognising, you know, in addition to the biases that that Julian mentioned, I also think that's really important, but just kind of recognising that, that it can be a blind spot for you to not have it I think that sort of catalyses change from, you know, both men and women to try to increase that.

Julie 32:48
One thing I want to ask about, and this is because I know the founder of the company I'm at right now, or I'm founded by Stephanie Kirkpatrick, something that was really important to her, and especially the early stages of getting the seed funding and the the series a funding was, you know, making sure that her board, we're not only allies of women, but it was a diverse board and something that, you know, in the early days, especially like those are people that are going to take board seats, they're going to be there with you from day one, and wanting to make sure that they were allies of her and the company and the mission, how do you see that playing a role in funds wanting to diversify their partners or others at that investment level?

Jillian 33:33
Yeah, I think that's really important. And I think, especially to Stephanie's point, and especially the last two years, and hopefully this remains true, but like the last two years, especially founders had a lot of power in terms of who they wanted on their boards who they wanted as masters, we're getting multiple term sheets. And so they can really dictate and have the choice of the investors that they wanted. And honestly, any top founder usually can choose from a number of options. And so I think that's really important for investors to remember when to be values aligned with their founders. And if that's something that's important to a founder, and then the founder looks at the board or looks at the team that will be investing in them. And like kind of, it's a very homogeneous team. And that is something that might not align with how that founder wants to build their company. And there can be a disconnect there. And so I think even thinking about that, and that's something that can help you win a deal in Florida like not even wanting to like say, like, Oh, let me just have someone on a team just help us win a deal. But like, honestly, because then they can help you help the founder and bring to the founder, a different perspective in terms of, oh, we're trying to hire for some unique talent, and people have different networks, and that's so important as well as people bringing in different perspectives. And I think if you have a team that all has the same background, you then can't actually bring that value add to, to a founder as well. And I think that can be a challenge for, for investors as well. And so being able to really sort of bring in different perspectives and different backgrounds, I think is actually even more of a differentiator for funds as well. Have you

Julie 35:20
noticed any specific deals that you guys have won? Because you're a more female team than others?

Jillian 35:25
No, yeah. But we have definitely seen, like, we're very clear, I think it's on our website, or we're in the process of redoing our website. So I can't remember if it's on it, or it's on the next iteration of it. But we do definitely talk about the values of, of cowboy when we are kind of selling ourselves to companies that we want to work with. And then we actually do, I think it's annual or biannual, like an NPS score of how we work with them, and actually align it to our values as well and ask our founders, how they think about us versus that. And that is something that we're very clear on. And that comes down to a lot of like, how we can like a lot of the stuff of diversity things and things like that, like, in for us, like, if that's not important to you, then we probably aren't the right investor for you. Because that's something that's meaningful to us. And so that we definitely see that as things that has helped us win deals. And I wouldn't say it's helped us it's like, ever lost us a deal. But honestly, like, if you really don't care that like, that's probably going to be clear in one conversation or another. And then, like, there's probably just not a fit between us,

Julie 36:31
Anna, Christina, what about you,

Ana Cristina 36:32
I mean, I would say probably where what I've noticed is more just in terms of women founders, right, feeling comfortable, or wanting to speak to you more, if you are a woman and investing and I remember, you know, we had a conversation with some of the women founders in our portfolio, and, you know, a few kind of anecdotes, but one was, you know, when when QED was only men, right? Like, I didn't want to go pitch to them, because it's like, I What are they going to know about my business? Right? Like, how are they going to be able to, you know, speak to me, or empathise with me, or, you know, so many, so many different things that I think, you know, people don't realise that there's, you know, there's also obviously a human element to being a founder and to the relationship with your, with your investor. And as much as I think, you know, Julian kind of alluded to this earlier, but as much as we talk about, you know, these networks of how, you know, when, when you're a man, and you're a founder, and it's so much more about like the people that you know, they tend to be men, and you tend to kind of just like reinforce that circle on that network. I think, you know, we need to build a similar kind of network for women, right, so that we can also feel supported. And we can also feel like, we have that unfair advantage, even though at that point, it will no longer be be called that right. But in the sense of how do we actually create that for women and create that environment. So I would say it's more in the sense of, you know, opening the doors so that more people will come knocking at your door, if that makes sense. Like, if you bring in, you know, more diverse, a more diverse investment team, you're just naturally going to attract a more diverse pipeline, which means you will be attracting a better pipeline, a stronger pipeline and a deeper pipeline. So I think as an investor, that's kind of what you should aim for. Right? It's just having the best quality pipeline and the best deals. And so I think, you know, that's sort of the angle that I have seen it mostly through,

Julie 38:28
I guess one last thing to kind of wrap it up, then if we were to have this conversation again, in five years, what would be something that you hope would have changed by then? And, uh, Christina? Yeah.

Ana Cristina 38:42
I mean, it's a good question. I mean, I would hope that I no longer have to set a quota that we don't longer have to set quotas for, you know, women in our portfolio. I mean, clearly dealing doesn't have to, they have they already have solved this. But I would probably say for most other funds, right, like not having to set it as a target and have it just naturally be, you know, a part of the pipeline, not having to force it, I think would be would be incredible. And then I would also say, just having more women, and I've said this a couple times on this podcast today, because I really believe it is having more women doing angel investing. I do think, you know, there needs to be more women that feel comfortable, you know, taking the risk writing checks. And that means not just because the comfort level doesn't exist, but also because maybe the opportunities aren't there, you know, where it's easy for women to access deals. And so how do we create more of that platform is a question for us, right that we need to kind of work to create, but I would hope that in five years, we have more women that are actively writing checks, and so we can have, you know, naturally that will I think leak into a better you know, VC industry, makeup, but those would be kind of the two the two things that I would push on

Jillian 40:00
I think from my perspective; it would be that we just keep seeing more successes of female founders because I think then it will just be, I think all of that kind of trickles down in terms of, it'll be easier for more female founders to get funding. And I think then, from the investor standpoint, it becomes a lot easier for investor female investors, especially if they're primarily male fund then for them to advocate for female founders in general. And maybe, and I think then that can go to like, hopefully, will, we don't need as many like specific female founder like panels and things like that. And they can just exist, because they are also great founders that happen to be female as well. I know five years is not that long from now. And companies take a lot longer than that to build. But hopefully, a lot of ones that are already being built, continue to grow quickly and become successors. And we just see that a lot more success, but with female founders, and that percentage of like 2.3% of funding to female founders can actually go up in a straight line rather than kind of up and down each year. Unfortunately,

Helen 41:16
no, I love that. I think the idea of like just existing is not being a woman's thing or a female thing. I think that's a great place to wrap up. Yeah, I think we're gonna wrap it up here. What do you think, Julie?

Julie 41:44
I think that's good. I, you know, that's a little bit of a chicken and an egg problem there in terms of, like, okay, we need more female VCs. But in order for the female VC to be able to effectively do their job, we need more female founders, but hopefully, both keep going up, and it ends up working together.

Jillian 42:01
Exactly. Yeah,

Helen 42:02
then we just exist. This has been so interesting.

Jillian 42:09
Thank you for having us. Yeah, thank you.

Julie 42:13
Beyond 2%. In our next episode, we'll be diving into a similar topic. Becoming a female angel investor or limited partner in a venture fund is something that might sound complicated and a bit scary for women at first, I know it did me but our two guests prove that we're more than capable of doing either of these things and doing them well. Tune in next time to hear why more women are saying yes to these opportunities and what steps you should take to do so as well if you're interested. But until next time, thanks for listening. We've been your host Helen Femi Williams and Julie Greenberg